Howard County voters gave primary election victories yesterday to school board candidates Sandra H. French, Linda L. Johnston, Delroy L. Cornick Sr. and S. Melvina Brown.
In the race for a Circuit Court judgeship, Judge Dennis M. Sweeney easily turned back his two challengers with 14,893 votes, or 62 percent, with 68 of the county's 72 precincts reporting.
The two challengers, Donald W. B. Messenger and Charles E. Wehland, received 6 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The primary brought out 40 percent of the county's 92,694 registered voters.
Mrs. French took an early lead among the eight candidates in the non-partisan school board race and held it through the evening. With 68 precincts in, she had 14,420 votes, 19 percent of the total.
Late returns brought few changes in the race. Mrs. Johnston finished with 8,219 votes, or 11 percent; Dr. Cornick with 7,500 votes, or 10 percent; and Mrs. Brown with 6,039, or 8 percent.
Vote totals for the other four candidates were: W. Eugene Eckhart Jr., 5,784, 8 percent; Debra Ann Slack-Katz, 5,540, 7 percent; Jerry D. Johnston (no relation to Linda Johnston) 4,155, 6 percent; Richmond Laney, 2,195, 3 percent.
Mrs. French, who ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 1990, said the victory left her feeling "very good, optimistic and cautious at the same time."
Mrs. French, 48, of Ellicott City is a substitute teacher in county schools and a part-time office manager.
Dr. Cornick, a retired Morgan State University professor and novice office-seeker, expressed quiet satisfaction.
"I think for a person who was seeking political office for the first time, with very little help financially, very little help otherwise, with a very small crew, I probably did very well," he said.
Mrs. Johnston attributed her victory to "my broad-based experience in education," having had two children go through the county school system, and to endorsements from the Howard County Education Association and the county coaches' association.
She is an associate professor of health education at Howard Community College and has taught in elementary and secondary schools in other states.
The teachers union also endorsed Dr. Cornick.
Mrs. Brown, 47, of Ellicott City is a real estate sales representative for REMAX Columbia.